Science and Tech


Meet The Tick Causing Allergies To Red Meat

Researchers say the Lone Star tick is linked to numerous sudden allergies to meat. The tick has now spread to southern parts of the U.S.
Posted at 3:01 PM, Aug 08, 2014

​​When you think tick bites, you probably think Lyme disease. We're guessing you haven't heard of developing an allergy to meat as a possible complication.

Named after the state of Texas, the Lone Star tick's bite might have caused the thousands of sudden aversions to red meat that have been reported along the East Coast as far back as 2011.

The tick made headlines in 2012 when doctors speculated there might be a link between the tick and the allergies but weren't completely sure.

And now the number of cases are increasing as the ticks spread into the Midwest and southern parts of the U.S.

OK — looks like your chances of getting a Lone Star chomp have increased. Doctors say once you're bitten, you can develop the allergy almost immediately.

​And once you're allergic, say bye-bye to burgers. Many describe getting hives, a swollen throat or tongue or a burning sensation just a few hours after eating red meat. (Video via Companion Animal Parasite Council)

And why does this happen? Maybe because the tick's saliva contains a sugar also found in red meat. As NBC explains, that sugar is usually harmless when digested, but when delivered through the bloodstream, it triggers the body's immune system response.

In 2011, researchers from the University of Virginia first identified a possible link between tick bites and allergies to meat. They said 90 percent of those who reported a sudden meat allergy had a history of tick bites.

Researchers still don't know whether the allergy is permanent. But for being named after a state that loves steak, the Lone Star tick sure is ironic.

This video contains images from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.